State: More jobs going to Alaskans

Posted: Monday, February 07, 2000

ANCHORAGE - State figures for 1998 indicate resident hires are on the rise across Alaska. For the first time in a decade, fewer than one in five Alaska workers lived outside the state.

Statistics indicate that those 70,000 nonresident workers earned nearly $1 billion in wages in 1998. Those wages would generate up to $744 million in economic activity if the money were spent and then respent in-state, state figures indicate.

Nonresidents accounted for just under 20 percent of all jobs and 11 percent of all wages in 1998, state figures indicate.

Resident hire has gained about 1 percentage point a year for three years. Nonresident hire peaked in 1992 at 23.7 percent and bottomed out during the statewide economic crash in 1987 at 15.5 percent.

Alaska's seafood processing industry is made up primarily of nonresidents, officials said. Another highly seasonal, low-paying industry is hotels, and it filled about a third of its work force with nonresidents.

Alaska's improvement in recent years can be attributed primarily to state programs designed to train people to fill local jobs and the state's encouragement of resident hire, said Jeff Hadland, a state economist and author of the report.

Large construction projects also helped reduce nonresident-hire numbers, he said. Publicly-funded construction projects are required to hire 90 percent resident workers in various occupations, including plumbers, carpenters and pipefitters.

The state gets its numbers by comparing Permanent Fund dividend applications with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development's wage file. The state defines anyone who doesn't apply or qualify for a Permanent Fund dividend as a nonresident.

About 15 percent of all people classified as nonresidents become eligible for Permanent Fund dividends and then are classified as residents the following year.

A comparison with other states isn't possible because Alaska is unique in compiling resident-hire statistics, Hadland said.

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